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Get real, CPM (and Comment) - The Economic Times

Editorial ()
October 8, 1998

Title: Get real, CPM (and Comment)
Author: Editorial
Publication: The Economic Times
Date: October 8, 1998

Against all odds India's largest Left party, the communist Party
of India (Marxist), seems to be changing. This gut-wrenching
evolutionary drama is being played out in Calcutta, venue of the
party's 16th party congress. Today, leaders say that the CPM
will extend 'issue-based' support to the Congress, till recently
the CPM's bete noir. This is a far cry from the party's rabidly
anti-Congress politics, which first split the communists and
formed the CPM in the mid-60s. It is also an acknowledgement,
about a decade after the event, that politics has changed since
Congress-vs-the-rest wrangles of earlier years. So, the CPM
will rally with secular heavies like the Congress to oppose the
Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Hindu chauvinism.

However, ganging up for November's assembly polls in Delhi,
Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Rajasthan is an easy choice. The CPM
is a featherweight in all four states. It'll be harder for CPM
leaders to decide which way to go when polls come around in West
Bengal and Kerala, where the party is strong. But the fact that
the leadership is willing to look hard choices in the eye
indicates a departure from its recent fiddle-faddle on 'third-
wave politics'. To come up to date with the late-20th century,
the CPM has to work harder. Its party programme, that rubbishes
democracy as a stopgap pending revolution, has to be amended to
remove doubts about the CPM's commitment to democracy.
Communists dressed as social democrats (or vice versa?) are
unreliable creatures. Its economics, too, need updating. A party
that chases investors and practices reformist economics in West
Bengal, can't afford to rubbish liberalisation and deregulation
publicly without looking ridiculous. The world over, people have
prospered where competition, deregulation and democracy are the
norm. Where they aren't, citizens have suffered. Britain's New
Labour has realised this, with obvious political and economic
success. One reason to doubt that the CPM can overhaul is the
age-profile of the party. Reformists are over 70 years old.
Hardliners with ossified worldviews, paradoxically, are
youngsters in their mid-40s. Plus ca change?

COMMENT:

Two points on this editorial. o, the CPM will rally with
secular heavies like the Congress to oppose the BJP's Hindu
chauvinism. Who has given the Congress the ecular
certificate? Given its record of minority appeasement and
casteist politics, it would perhaps be better if there were more
Hindu chauvinist parties around!!!

ts party programme, that rubbishes democracy as a stopgap
pending revolution, has to be amended to remove doubts about the
CPM's commitment to democracy. Truly an amazing statement, and
a clear acknowledgement that the CPM has no commitment to
democracy!!! Perhaps the Election Commission must look into the
issue whether the party needs to be derecognised.


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